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Colorado is a state filled with natural beauty that has something for everyone. In addition to the outdoor activities, there are many museums and historical sites that will appeal to children – and adults – of all ages.
Planning your trip to Colorado requires some thinking in advance so you’re all set for the adventures ahead. Here are some top things to do in Colorado with kids that will make your family trip an absolute success.
- Things to Do in Colorado With Kids-Denver
- Adventure Forest at Children’s Museum of Denver
- Downtown Aquarium
- Colorado Railroad Museum
- Elitch Gardens
- Molly Brown House
- Garden of the Gods
- Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
- Ghost Town Museum
- Go Paddleboarding
- Dinosaur National Monument
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Glenwood Hot Springs Resort – a Family-Friendly Hot Springs Resort
- Snowtubing or Summer Tubing in Colorado
- Skiing in Breckenridge
- Mesa Verde National Park
Things to Do in Colorado With Kids-Denver
If you’re planning on spending just a weekend in Denver, check out my article on ‘How to spend the weekend in Denver with kids‘.
If you have a little more time to spare than just a weekend though, see what you think to these fabulous family activities to do in Denver.
The Children’s Museum of Denver is located in downtown Denver.
They have a changing program of events as well as the four main exhibits. There’s something for kids of all ages, including the smallest toddlers, with plenty of interactive activities on offer.
If you plan to visit the museum, be sure to take your kids to the Adventure Forest, a 500 ft. long aerial adventure course for children.
It’s open to kids over 5 years, or 44″ tall, and involves climbing and clambering over, through and up rope bridges and treehouse-like structures. Kids can push their limits of bravery and strength on the chimney climb or spider web.
This place will make you feel like you were a kid again!
This incredible aquarium is located in Denver’s Confluence Park. It is one of the best things to do in Denver with kids.
The Aquarium Adventure exhibit divides creatures into different regions such as North America, The Rainforest, In the Desert and At The Beach.
Exhibits include a simulation of a coral reef and an ocean shipwreck with paintings on the wall.
Kids get to feed and touch some of the sea life creatures too.
There are also a couple of rides at the aquarium – the Aquatic Carousel, a themed merry-go-round that little kids will adore, and the Aquarium Express, a train that circles around the property.
Make sure you check ahead to see what movies are due to play in the 4D movie theatre.
You can enjoy seafood speciality dishes for dinner in the restaurant or lounge while watching fish and even perhaps some mermaids in the enormous aquarium, just a few feet from your table.
The history of Colorado is about trains and the Colorado Railroad Museum just outside Denver has lots of fun family activities.
As well as entry to the museum and the exhibits where you can learn more about the railroad history, there are train rides on different kinds of trains. Check their website for more info before you visit though, as some days there are no rides scheduled.
Little kids will adore ‘A Day Out With Thomas’ – it includes a scavenger hunt, mazes, singing, and an interactive train ride on a life-size Thomas the Tank Engine.
If you’re visiting Colorado late in the year, don’t miss the museum’s ‘Polar Express’ train ride, an experience on a steam locomotive complete with Santa, holiday magic, Christmas songs and entertainment. It runs from mid-November through December 23.
Colorado’s only combined Theme and Water Park has rides for all ages and makes for a fun family day out. There are thrilling rides for the adrenaline junkies in your family as well as gentle, cheery rides for toddlers.
The water rides are closed in the colder months so if you love water theme parks, plan your visit for the summer!
They also have seasonal events such as “Fright Fest’, suitable for even the youngest of kids by day and open at night for more daring visitors. Children are encouraged to come dressed up in Halloween costumes. They get free candy on the Trick or Treat Trail and they can take part in Halloween themed interactive challenges.
There are plenty of places to eat in the park and a selection of stores to get souvenirs from too.
Molly Brown’s main claim to fame was that she survived the sinking of the Titanic. This led to her becoming known as ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown’. She was also a philanthropist, activist, and socialite and the museum is located in what was her home.
The house, built in the 1880s, is listed as a Historic House. The exhibits in the museum describe Molly’s life as well as life in Victorian-era Denver.
Check out the Youth and Family programs for storytelling, Scout Saturdays, hands-on activities and guided tours.
Things to do in Colorado Springs with kids
The Colorado Springs region offers some of the best opportunities for fantastic Colorado family vacations.
This visitor and nature centre combines education with adventure, creating a wonderful family day out.
Learn about the geology and ecology of the area in the fascinating, interactive museum before heading out on your outdoor adventure.
Activity-wise, there is so much to do here.
- Rent a bike (or an electric bike if you’d rather take it easy)
- If you prefer, you can simply take advantage of the trails and go hiking.
- Take a guided nature walk
- Go rock climbing
- Travel back in time on a trolley or jeep tour
- Go on an Adventure Level Segway tour (don’t worry, training is included!)
Be sure to check their ever-changing Adventure Program for new events.
When you get hungry after so much exertion, enjoy a meal while marvelling at the views from the glass-enclosed cafe or terrace.
You’ll find lots of big zoo animals here, such as giraffes, elephants and rhinos. They also have plenty of animals that are friendly and even the smallest kids can pet, such as farmyard animals and reptiles.
There are over 800 animals to see and the interactive, entertaining activities make it fun for the whole family.
If you love to visit zoos, book a custom behind-the-scenes tour at this mountain zoo to see some of the animals up close.
The view from the hilltop zoo is stunning, and worth the visit just to eat a meal at one of the many dining options that overlook the surrounding countryside and nearby city of Colorado Springs.
This is a fun place to visit where you can imagine how life was to live in the Wild West. The museum is a model town of historic-styled buildings and genuine historic artefacts.
Try your hand at gold panning, play antique arcade games and try making butter with the hand-crank butter churn.
For kids who like the water, this is a fantastic activity. Colorado is full of calm lakes that are perfect for relaxing paddleboarding. There are also river parks that offer a little more excitement too, depending on your paddleboarding skills.
Bring your own gear or rent paddleboard equipment at one of the many lakeside beach houses or kiosks. Note that for most lakes, a day permit is required for paddleboarding.
Things to do in Colorado With Kids- Other Places
What kid doesn’t love dinosaurs? Visit this national monument and learn all about dinosaur history.
The Dinosaur National Monument is located in the northwestern corner of Colorado. The monument park is enormous and there are lots of family-friendly things to do.
- go hiking
- enjoy incredible views
- go canyon rafting
- check out the dinosaur fossils
- join a Ranger for a guided tour
- take part in an evening or night sky program
- go snowmobiling, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing in winter
The park also has 6 camp sites and they permit backcountry camping if you prefer a little more ‘wild’ in your wilderness.
You’ll find 415 square miles of mountains, forests and alpine tundra in the Rocky Mountain National Park. It has over 300 miles of hiking trails, suitable for beginners and experienced hikers alike. If you like sleeping under the stars, head for the hills and enjoy some wilderness camping.
Kids will love easy and beautiful hikes and strolls, looking for all the different kinds of animals to see, including beaver, elk, marmot, moose, bears and mountain lions.
Read more about our visit to Rocky Mountain National Park in this post.
Glenwood Hot Springs Resort boasts the world’s largest hot springs pool. That’s not all though – keep the kids happy with water chutes, a toddler splash area, mini slides, interactive water features and shallow play areas.
The grown-ups can take advantage of the spa and all the known health benefits that come from the mineral-laden water. They also offer a fly fishing package.
The lodge at the resort has a variety of family rooms and suites available, so if you’re looking for a base for your Colorado trip, this is a great option.
Snow Mountain Ranch in Winter Park Colorado has one of only 3 tubing hills in the USA. This is fantastic, safe fun for kids and parents alike. If you stay over at the ranch, you get to use the tubing hill for free too!
This family-friendly resort can truly offer the best family vacations in Colorado since it has different types of accommodation including cabins, yurts and lodges, RV and camping sites, as well as an impressive list of things to do.
With over 5000 acres, there’s no end of different activities to enjoy on the ranch itself so you can be sure no one in your family will be bored:
- Dog sledding
- Horseback riding
- Ice skating
Breckenridge is a superb choice for a family ski holiday in Colorado – it has beginner-friendly slopes as well as challenging terrain for experienced skiers.
With a new children’s ski and snowboarding school your kids are sure to enjoy improving – or trying for the first time – their snow feet. There are also childcare facilities widely available for parents who want some ‘me’ time.
You might also be interested in things to do with kids in Breckenridge in the summer if you’re going there in the warmer months.
The Mesa Verde National Park is in southwest Colorado. It’s renowned for its cliff dwellings built by the Ancestral Pueblo people. Today, the park continues to protect the culture of 26 tribes.
The cliff dwellings are incredible to see, though most of them can only be visited on a guided tour. The most interesting building is undoubtedly the enormous Cliff Palace.
A visit to Mesa Verde National Park is a fascinating opportunity for kids. Drop by the Visitor & Research Center or entrance station to get a leaflet identifying various activities for kids. Once they’ve completed them, they can get a Junior Ranger badge.
If you’re interested in ancient Native American culture, check out the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum for educational exhibits. Don’t miss the rock carvings and petroglyphs on the Petroglyph Point Trail.
For incredible scenery, follow the Mesa Top Loop Road which takes you past archaeological sites and panoramic views over the canyon.
Glamping – otherwise known as glamorous camping – lets us nature lovers enjoy the fun of camping and the outdoors but without the pain of lugging tents and sleeping bags around.
These days, glamping is often more comfortable than your average hotel room, but the real bonus is the charm of staying in a comfortable tent, in a place of natural beauty.
The resort is on an 80-acre property, on the edge of the Pike National Forest, about an hour from Colorado Springs. It’s a family-friendly glamp site with a long list of outdoor activities on offer, and large, elegant tents.
Each tent has 2 queen size beds, a private bathroom, a wood-burning stove and solar lighting. There’s also an outdoor deck with seating and a fire pit, perfect for family get-togethers to look at the stars. Meals can be brought to you so there’s no need to cook if you don’t want to.
They also provide you with a golf cart to get around the camp.
As well as hiking, you can arrange to do these activities:
- horse riding
- visit hot springs
Whether you want exciting white water rafting and vigorous hiking, or tranquil fishing and relaxing in hot springs, there are plenty of ways for everyone to have a good time on a family trip to Colorado.
This area is full of incredible scenery which will delight nature lovers, but it also has fascinating places to visit with a rich history to learn about.